His notes smell of cognac—dark old wood
and finesse. The tip-snifter rests on top
his home spinet. Was a time he would
fill it with warm, brown liquid, then practice.
Now it holds dust and matchbooks. Still, he could
smell brandy as he plunked black keys. Dark wood
still echoed as he played for no one to stop
his old thirst. Love songs and murder tunes should
keep sad hands steady. He’s starting to miss
slack drummers and reed players. That’s not good
for someone playing cognac notes on wood
older than his father. He wants to mop
a ghost spill. His soul wants to play like this….
Mark J. Mitchell was born in Chicago and grew up in southern California. Previous to the pandemic, he worked as a tour guide in San Francisco. The temporary death of tourism has left him unemployed. Before that, he worked for 30+ years in the wine and liquor business at the retail and promotional ends of the industry. He is very fond of baseball, Louis Aragon, Miles Davis, Kafka and Dante. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, the activist, Joan Juster. His most recent collection, covering his guiding years, is Roshi, San Francisco (Norfolk Press)